(5) Advice

May 13th, 2017
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  1. Star craned her head up to gaze at the gargantuan ceiling of Echo Creek Mall's central plaza, the cream-colored dome's lighting creating an almost nauseating pattern of harsh white dots that illuminated the bustling mob of shoppers below. The mall was small by the standards of most shopping complexes, but still held a massive amount of small startup retailers and established chains whose signage marked the halls every which way she looked, a bizarre tapestry of logos and popping colors all reaching out for attention. Looking to Marco, Star found the boy transfixed in thought as he slowly strolled into the center of the plaza, taking a seat on one of the cool ceramic benches surrounding the fountain in the center. Star followed suit, tucking her head down a bit as she drew the stares of a few people, keeping her tail close to her body as she plopped down beside him.
  3. "So, clothes shopping," Marco began, a finger resting upon his chin in contemplation. "Did you have any idea of what you were looking for?"
  5. Star looked down at the tessellated tiling below her. "Well, t-to be honest, I was kinda going to just follow your lead. I don't really know much about Earth's fashion sense," Star quietly spoke, Marco barely hearing her over the dozens of footfalls around them.
  7. Marco suppressed the urge to put his hands to his head as he sighed. "Star, I'm probably the last person to ask about fashion. You've seen my closet- I have four of the same hoodie," he replied, pointing to the one currently around him. Star let a soft laugh escape her before she slumped against the bench, her tail absentmindedly sliding over the tiles beneath her.
  9. "Pretty bad idea for a date, huh?" Star said, a fake grin plastered on her face as she mentally berated herself. Marco laughed and pulled an arm around her, bringing her close with a quiet yelp as Star felt her shoulder tuck under his, his hand coming to rest on her other. Star's smile became genuine as she leaned into him, uncaring of her being in public as she pecked his cheek.
  11. Before Marco could respond, the two heard a low giggle behind them.
  13. "Having fun?"
  15. The pair separated with a jump as they whirled their heads around to see Jackie Lynn Thomas behind them, her elbows resting against the back of the bench as she held her head in her hands, an amused grin on her face as she took in the panicked expressions of the two.
  17. "J-Jackie?" Marco spat out, a firey tinge of red rising across his cheeks.
  19. "Oh, I almost feel bad about it, but you too just looked too cute to not mess with!" Jackie replied, still giggling to herself. Star scooter back across the bench as Jackie vaulted over the back and landed next to her, her board propped up on the armrest. "So what brings Echo Creek's newest couple here?"
  21. "I wanted to try and get a feel for Earth's fashion sense," Star spoke lowly, forcing herself to make eye contact with Jackie. "Turns out that neither of us really know much when it comes to clothes."
  23. Star and Marco both gasped as Jackie pulled them off the bench with a smile. "Follow me. I know just the place for you two."
  25. Jackie led the duo across the southern half of the mall, with Star struggling to keep her tail close to her in the midst of the bustling crowd, almost striking a few small children accidentally with it. Absorbed in her thoughts, she absentmindedly bumped face-first into Marco's back as Jackie stopped outside of what was little more than a hole in the wall.
  27. "Spectrum Threads," Marco said aloud as he read the sign, the neon contrasting harshly against the dark grey wall around it. "You sure about this place, Jackie?"
  29. "Totally. This place has so many of the obscure brands. It's a gold mine if you're looking for something other than just band/movie tees and crappy jeans," she replied, gesturing for the two to follow as she strolled inside. Star and Marco were greeted with the soft glow of an interior dimmer as the store was almost silent, a lone cashier pounding away at a keyboard up front.
  31. "Alright Marco, see you in a bit. Find something cool!" Jackie blurted out before grabbing Star by the arm and pulling her into the racks of clothes on the women's side, Star letting out a small yell of protest. Marco called out and pushed apart the racks, only to be stopped as Jackie's hand pushed him away.
  33. "Girl time, Marco. You wouldn't understand what would look good," she bluntly stated before ducking her head back between the stands. Marco opened his mouth to argue, but said nothing as he realized she was right. Turning back to Star, Jackie giggled as she heard Marco's receding footsteps and took the girl by the hand.
  35. "Alright, first things first- we have GOT to get you a new headband. That old thing isn't getting you anywhere," Jackie began, pointing to the worn strap of purple keeping Star's hair in place. "Then we need some new dresses, and maybe a pair of sweats or leggings we can get hemmed to fit your tail. And maybe some underwear, even!"
  37. "Star raised her hands up. "Wait wait wait, what do you mean 'getting me anywhere?' I'm fine right now with this."
  39. Jackie held back a giggle. "Oh come on, after that move you made on Marco in the theater, don't act like you're being innocent."
  41. It took a brief moment for Star's brain to make the connection, but the millisecond that the gears finally clicked an intense, almost scalding blush burst forth as she stuttered and almost tripped over her own tail. Jackie put a hand to her mouth to hold back another fit of laughter as the girl before her shook her head furiously.
  43. "No! Not at all! I haven't even thought about..." Star trailed off out of embarrassment, looking away from Jackie. "He's just really good with his hands, that's all." Realizing her choice of words, she ducked her head down even further as Jackie's restraint failed her, doubling over in heaving laughter, her sides cramping in stitches. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she gave Star a reassuring pat on the shoulders as the girl let out a timid groan.
  45. "Come on, it wasn't anything really lewd. Just rubbing your tail, right? At least he cares. Now come on, we're not gonna get you a new wardrobe just standing here." Jackie let her words sink in Star's still muddled mind as she grabbed a cardigan off the rack in front of her. "See? You'll look great in this shade."
  47. Star finally pulled her head back up to look at the piece Jackie had picked out and found herself rather liking the periwinkle tint of the cardigan. "Yeah, it does look nice." She found herself pulled along as Jackie took her across the women's section, the skater grabbing various pieces of clothing from the racks and briefly showing them to Star before adding them to an increasingly larger assortment she had curated.
  49. Star stopped Jackie with a hand on her shoulder. "Jackie, how do you know this stuff is good?"
  51. "Well you're gonna try it on first, duh," Jackie bluntly retorted. "Why else would you bring Marco?"
  53. Star blinked slowly. "So people on Earth just try on clothes? Wouldn't that lead to theft?" Her blush slightly resurfaced as she thought of Marco looking at every outfit she had so far.
  55. "Don't worry, the cameras pick out people like that. Besides, you need to show Marco. Guys hate it when girls act like they don't have an opinion worth considering," Jackie casually said, picking a blouse from a nearby selection. Holding up the motley collection she had pulled together, she motioned towards the fitting rooms with a wink. Star trailed along, mulling over Jackie's words.
  57. 'I guess she's right,' she thought. 'Marco's always been honest with me, and I do want him to like this stuff.' Her heart felt giddy in her chest as she entered one of the booths, Jackie already separating he clothes into outfits. Giving a wink to the reptilian girl, Jackie slipped out of the room and headed for the men's section.
  59. Marco was in the middle of inspecting the collar of a polo he had taken a liking to when he felt Jackie's finger tapping impatiently on his shoulder. Turning his head, he saw the girl motioning for him to follow behind.
  61. "What, Jackie? Is Star ready to check out?" he said quizzically.
  63. "I gotta bounce Diaz," Jackie replied. "I lost track of time and need to get home and help Mom with cleaning. Star's in the changing rooms, and wants a second opinion on what she got." Jackie's reply had barely registered within Marco's head before the girl spun around and took off. She stopped briefly by the fitting rooms to flash a thumbs-up to Star, who had poked her head out of the room in search of her.
  65. "Alright, just remember what I told you. Care about his opinion and don't be afraid to be forward with him if you really need to get his attention," Jackie said. "Don't just take "It's fine" for an answer."
  67. Star nodded briskly, her eyes tense as she noticed a slip of red hoodie moving its' way through the racks of clothing. Jackie ducked her head down and bolted as Star retreated into the changing room, her tail snapping back and forth in nervousness as she eyed the garments around her.
  69. "Star?" she heard Marco's voice through the door.
  71. "Yeah, I'll be out soon!" she replied, as she slipped into the first outfit, adjusting herself as needed. A cold whisper of doubt wafted through her mind, and she shuddered in anticipation as she opened the stall door.
  73. "Marco?"
  75. Marco looked up from his phone and saw Star meekly standing in front of him, hands behind her back as she let him take in her clothing. She'd started small, with a simple black, collared blouse and sea-green skirt, a trim of waves around the hem. A faint tinge of red rose to the surface of her face as she turned once for him, feeling naked despite her outfit. Marco saw her blush and smiled.
  77. 'I guess she really is going out on a limb here,' he thought to himself. "It looks good, Star. What else did she pick out?"
  79. Star's eyes snapped open from their half-lidded state and blinked twice.
  81. "Is that all?" she asked, the crippling chill of worry resurfacing.
  83. "Yeah, it's nice," he replied with a shrug.
  85. Star nodded raptly, an uneasy feeling in her stomach as she retreated back into the stall and grabbed the next outfit.
  87. 'I guess that didn't really appeal to him,' she thought. 'I hope I have something he really likes.'
  89. Marco went back to his solitaire game on his phone as he heard the rustling of fabric behind the door. He glanced over as the door opened after a minute, seeing Star tiptoe out. A periwinkle cardigan, buttoned up to the breast, enclosed a soft lavender top as her tail swished about, moving the fabric of a knee-length denim skirt. Her regular headband was gone, replaced by a black band with a bright silver stripe along the top.
  91. "Looks good," Marco bluntly said. Star almost visibly deflated with frustration as she held back a growl in her throat.
  93. "What do you like about it?" Star replied, eager to get an answer longer than three words as she twirled for him.
  95. "Uh... I guess the headband is nice?" Marco awkwardly forced out.
  97. 'Wow, I don't know a thing about this, do I?' he thought, a rhetorical question that stuck in his head like lead. He almost unconsciously dipped his head down, and Star huffed. She stormed back inside, fists clenched in exasperation as Marco looked down at the floor, one hand behind his head in embarrassment.
  99. 'THIS oughta get his attention. I'm not gonna take 'fine' for an answer,' she mused, echoing Jackie's words in her mind. Her time in the booth was short before she stepped back out, adjusting her straps slightly at the last minute. Marco turned his head up from his introspection and gasped as he nearly fell over.
  101. Star stood in front of him in fresh underwear, her petite chest wrapped by a bra of frilly, almost translucent pink lace, with a matching panty that sported a small bow above her groin. Marco shielded his eyes with his hands, a rocketing surge of hormones flowing through him as the sight was burned pleasantly into his mind. Star let out a suppressed growl and sat next to him on the bench, pulling down a hand to look at him. Marco's face was crimson, his eyes locked onto hers in inquiry.
  103. "Star! What the hell?" he spat out, doing his best to keep eye contact and ignore how close she was to him.
  105. "Well, looks like I finally got your attention. Is this just 'fine?'" she snarked. "You weren't really interested in anything else." Marco bowed his head as he knew Star was right.
  107. "I'm sorry, Star. I'm just not that great at this kind of stuff. I've never really cared about looking good."
  109. "You do own four red hoodies..." Star trailed, and the both of them laughed. "I just want your opinion. I did this because I wanted to wear what you would like."
  111. Marco put a hand around Star's back and pulled her close. "Wear what you want, Star. I like you no matter what you're in." Star blushed as she felt him punctuate himself with a soft kiss on her forehead. "But I should pay more attentiom with these kinds of things."
  113. Star got up from the bench and headed back into the booth with a sashay of her hips that Marco eyed with a bit lip. Giggling to herself as she slipped into her final outfit, she gave a final look-over and waltzed out.
  115. Marco racked his brain into shape as he took in Star in a svelte, dark red evening gown, a tempest of ruffles running diagonally from her shoulder down, a rose clasp holding the fabric up as her other shoulder lay bare. She twirled softly, smirking as she found an open mouth on her boyfriend.
  117. "What do you think?" she said gently as she stopped herself only inches from him.
  119. Marco's mental collecting fell to pieces as he resorted to a language he knew, moving himself forward and pressing his lips to hers, a moan of surprise coming from her as she leaned into him, hands already circling to his back. He held her fiercely, heat bleeding from his face as he felt her tongue, soft and slender, meet with his in a shy and intimate dance. Pulling away, he gasped for breath in tandem with Star.
  121. "Is that a good answer?" he said.
  123. Star giggled. "I think it could be a bit more... thorough."
  125. Marco had but a moment to think before she kissed him again.
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